European countries commence legal action against Google over privacy policy

[JURIST] Six European countries, including France, the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, Spain and Italy, on Tuesday agreed on joint legal action [press release] against Google [corporate website] over its privacy policy [text]. The countries claim that 13 months ago when Google merged 60 separate privacy policies, including email, video, social-networking and additional services, that Google failed to inform customers about how much information the company has about them and how long the information is kept. In 2012, the European Commission Article 29 Data Protection [official website] Working Party reported that Google's privacy policy did not meet the Commission's data protection standards. Google was then given a four-month timeline to meet the recommendations required to bring the policy into line with European law. Google has commented that its privacy policy [Bloomberg News] "respects European law and allows [it] to create simpler, more effective services."

Google has faced various privacy lawsuits recently. Earlier this month Google agreed to settle a $7 million [JURIST report] settlement for its collection of improper data during its Street View campaign. Last December an Italian appeals court overturned the conviction of three Google executives for violating Italian privacy laws [JURIST report] by posting a video on Google of a handicapped child being bullied. Last November a judge in the US District Court for the Northern District of California [official website] approved the $22.5 million fine levied by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) [official website] against Google for itss alleged privacy misrepresentations [JURIST report] concerning Apple's Safari internet browser.

 

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